By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer
FAIRFAX - Steve Timmers grew up in this small eastern Hamilton County village and remembers shopping at the former Swallen's store on Red Bank Road.
But Swallen's, once one of the largest appliance and furniture stores in Greater Cincinnati, is long gone. Another big anchor, the Ford transmission plant, shut down in 1979.
Today, that portion of Red Bank Road in Fairfax has turned into an eyesore, an unappealing greeting for motorists as they head into this village of 1,950 residents off Interstate 71.
"I would love to have some retail in there," Timmers, 35, said. "It definitely needs to be cleaned up. It's wasted space and there's no tax benefit."
He may get wish Monday if the Clean Ohio Council awards a $3 million grant from the Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund to tear down the former Ford transmission plant and clean up the 34-acre site.
"This is the first key to redeveloping the whole corridor," Fairfax Mayor Ted Shannon said.
Red Bank Road is being widened from two to four lanes from U.S. 50 north to the entrance to the Cincinnati Sports Club. Better flood controls and new curbs and storm sewers also are being installed. A second phase of the $5 million to $6 million project will continue widening the road up to the existing four-lane section of Red Bank near Brotherton Road.
The road and flood work should be complete by October 2004.
A developer has pledged to build a new office/retail complex on the old Ford property if the grant comes through, Shannon said.
U.S. Rep. Rob Portman, R-Terrace Park, wrote a letter of support to the Ohio Department of Development and says cleaning up the Ford site could create up to 1,000 jobs.
Since Ford pulled out in 1979, the former transmission plant has been used mainly for warehousing and some packaging businesses.
"I don't see how we can develop the Red Bank corridor to its maximum potential without it," adds Mel Martin, former mayor and city councilman of Madeira.
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